English Grammar Basic Grammar and syntax

What is a neologism? (with examples)

What is a neologism? (with examples)

A neologism is a newly coined word or term that has emerged into everyday use.

The lifespan of a neologism is limited because the neologism will either be formally accepted into mainstream language (at which point it ceases to be a neologism) or it will fade into obscurity due to disuse.

The word“neologism“comes from the Greek words“neo“(new and“logos“(word, speak).

Formal Definition of Neologism
El sustantivo“neologism“has the following meanings:

  • a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase.
  • the introduction or use of new words or new meanings of existing words.
  • a new doctrine, especially a new interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
  • (in the field of psychiatry) a new word, often consisting of a combination of other words, understood only by the speaker: occurs most often in the speech of schizophrenics.

The Form of a Neologism

A neologism will usually be one of the following forms:

  • A completely new word (e.g., oversharers)
  • A new combination of existing words (e.g., digital detox)
  • A new meaning for an existing word (e.g., sick)
  • An abbreviation or acronym (e.g., FOMO (Fear Of Missing out))

Examples of Neologisms

Aquí hay explicaciones para los cuatro ejemplos de neologismo anteriores:

  • Oversharers: People who post too much information (which is often boring or embarrassing) about themselves on line.
  • Digital Detox: Abstaining from electronic devices to re-engage with the physical world, typically to lower stress levels.
  • Sick: Good.
  • FOMO: FOMO is the need to remain engaged with others’ activities to ensure you do not miss out on something fun, exciting, beneficial, or profitable.

Examples of Old“Neologisms“

The following neologisms above have been formally accepted in the conventional language (this usually means that they appear in a respectable dictionary). As a result, they can no longer be classified as neologisms.

  • D’oh!: An exclamation meaning damn (usually after a mistake by the speaker).
  • Wicked: Good or cool.
  • To Google: To look up information on the internet.

Nota: El término“ancient neologism“it is an oxymoron (that is, an independent contradiction).

Examples of Neologisms under Transition

The following neologisms can be considered in transition. In other words, they are still neologisms, but they are likely to be accepted into general parlance soon.

  • Metrosexual: A heterosexual man who likes the interests traditionally associated with women or homosexual men (e.g., shopping, fashion, his appearance).
  • Noob: A person new to an online gaming community.
  • Staycation: A vacation at home or near home (usually due to financial constraints preventing a holiday abroad).
  • Troll: A person who posts obnoxious comments to an online community.

Why Should I Care about Neologisms?

Aquí hay tres buenas razones para pensar más cuidadosamente sobre los neologismos.

(Reason 1) Neologisms portray a sense of the modern.

Just as archaisms (eg, I think, yon, indeed) can be useful in portraying a sense of the ancient, neologisms can be useful in portraying a sense of the modern.

(Reason 2) Neologisms might alienate or baffle some of your readers.

Neologisms can be annoying or meaningless to readers who do not operate in the field that gave rise to the neologism. As an example, let’s look at some neologisms that emerged from Twitter (or“Twitterese“):

  • Tweetup. A meetup on Twitter.
  • Tweeps. Twitter users (Twitter + people).
  • Twitterholic. Some who users Twitter too much.
  • Twittersphere. The Twitter network.
  • Twitterati. Popular users.
  • Dweeps. Drunken tweets (messages).

While these can be fun to include in your copy, they all have the potential to throw off or annoy any of your non-Twittering readers. In other words, neologisms are a form of jargon, and using jargon is a sure way to alienate some of your readers. Therefore, use neologisms only with a suitable audience.

(Reason 3) Is your neologism as cool as you think?

Neologisms can quickly rise to prominence, but they can also quickly go out of style. For those who coin them (often the teenage generation), their value is their freshness and generational relevance (ie their parents and younger siblings don’t use the terms). When that freshness fades as the word comes into common usage, it may no longer be considered cool but rather obsolete. So if you’ve recently stumbled upon a cool neologism that you plan on using, check to make sure it’s still there.“down with the kids“. Here’s something to think about:

  • Plug-and-play employee. Someone who doesn’t need training.
    (Is this a cool neologism? Well, maybe to you. But, as at 2020, it’s over 20 years old.)


Using a neologism can portray a sense of the modern, but it also risks alienating some of your audience or exposing them as currently out of touch.

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